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What evidence to expect re status of book project

Started by Dismal, April 20, 2023, 10:49:40 AM

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When reviewing junior faculty, what evidence might you expect them to provide about the status of a book project?  We have someone whose book has been under contract for 6 years. When we ask about it, we are told that the chapters have been revised and resubmitted. Some are starting to wonder.

Is there standard documentation that an assistant prof would typically provide at this stage? Evidence of Correspondence with the editor? A timeline of interactions with the publisher? What would you provide if this were your book project? Most in this department publish articles, not books.


If it's under contract, one would expect that the faculty member to provide said contract. Regarding timing, the faculty member could provide a production schedule, if that book is that far along. If the book is still languishing in peer-review hell, the faculty member should be able to provide correspondence with the editor indicating the current progress of the manuscript and a projected timeline. Most editors will be used to providing such updates for faculty review.
FWIW, revise and resubmit peer review can be really quick, or can take forever. It really depends upon the press and the reviewers.


Six years is a long time but not outside of belief. For example:

2010: (Aug) Sign contract for m.s. to be submitted by end of 2012.
2013: (June) M.s. submitted six months late in middle of 2013.
2014: (July) M.s. goes through length peer review (trouble finding a reviewer, technological problems, reviewer late).
2015: (February) Author submits revised chapters
2015: (August): Peer reviewers want more changes
2016: (January): Author submits revised chapters
2016: (April): Press asks for some more revisions
2016 (July) Final m.s. submitted
2016: (September): Press accepts final m.s. and it enters production queue
2017: (January): There is a final proof for authors to review
2017 (March): Final index and m.s. submitted to press
2019 (April): Book finally published

(I am working on a book in which the m.s. was submitted to peer review in mid 2021. The final (edited, proofread, indexed) m.s. was submitted in mid 2022.  It is listed in the press's catalogue, but there is still no book yet. )

All this said, there should be some proof of each step, including a contract, an note from the editor acknowledging receipt of m.s., the peer-reviewers' report, etc. The process of writing book is nothing if not filled with lots of correspondence.

Of course, it is also possible that the author had a contract in 2016 and never finished the m.s. I once worked with somebody who listed his dissertation (from 1986) as being under review and resubmit at a university press for more than 20 years. He had submitted it, and got the peer review report, and never actually revised it or resubmitted it.


We would want to see the contract, a confirmation from the editor, and the MS.